Presentation on theme: "Dimensions of (Historical) Comparisons Risto Alapuro Katisten Kartano, 28 February 2013."— Presentation transcript:
Dimensions of (Historical) Comparisons Risto Alapuro Katisten Kartano, 28 February 2013
The justification of comparisons “Nobody who has studied and seen only France will ever understand anything, I dare to say, about the French revolution.” (Tocqueville 1952, 94) Comparisons help to ask better questions – to see what it is that has to be explained. (Tilly 1981) A conventional definition: “In comparative history, two or more historical phenomena are systematically studied for similarities and differences in order to contribute to their better description, explanation, and interpretation” (Kocka and Haupt 2009, 2). – See Kocka and Haupt 2009, 3-5. Example: The Finnish Civil War of 1918
Implication: unconnected units This view presupposes a relative autonomy of the cases included in the comparison. → “Paradoxically, the notion of separate and isolated units has been especially easy to adopt in comparative research.” (Kettunen 2006, 32) But: “In recent years both the Europeanization and the globalization of economic and political life, and culture and communication have created and intensified relations, connections, entanglements and constellations that extend beyond the borders between nation states, regions, and civilizations.” (Kocka and Haupt 2009, 199)
How to react to the non-autonomy of the cases in comparative research? (I) In the study of causal sequences (customary in comparative research in the social sciences) you can include “external factors” in the analysis: “In tracing a process, a researcher can easily consider both internal and external elements. Thus an analysis of capitalist development can consider the impact of local factors and external factors, as well as interactions between the two.” (Rueschemeyer and Stephens 1997, according to Lange 2013, 80) Cf. the analysis of revolutionary challenges in the end of World War I
How to react to the non-autonomy of the cases in comparative research? (II) “Encompassing comparisons begin with a large structure or process. They select locations within the structure or process and explain similarities or differences among those locations as consequences of their relationship to the whole” (Tilly 1984, 125) Immanuel Wallerstein: The Modern World-System (1974) Eric R. Wolf, Europe and the People without History (1982)
How to react to the non-autonomy of the cases in comparative research? (III) Instead of accepting cross-national comparisons as a taken-for-granted starting point for the research, one can look at comparisons as an object of study. One can consider the production and reproduction of the conception of separate national units both as a part of the making of the nation-state and as an inherent part of current globalization. (Pauli Kettunen, especially in analyzing the use of “models” [like the “Nordic model”] in comparative research)
Implication of the non-autonomy of the cases for the analysis The Galton problem: the diffusion (see Kleinschmidt 1991) Comparative research must take connections between the compared cases into account: “mutual perceptions and influences, transfers and travels, migrations and trade, interaction, relations of imitation and avoidance, shared dependence from one and the same constellation or common origin” (Kocka and Haupt 2009, 20).
Mutual dynamics, symmetry, asymmetry The point: Asymmetry but also mutual dynamics (not only diffusion): An example is the criticism of the “multiple modernities approach”, which first identifies “the form of modernity associated with the West and only then examines “the cultural dynamics of other religions and/or civilizations in comparison to it”. This is a “diffusionist position”, or “a form of unacknowledged Eurocentrism carried in the very methodology of comparative analysis”. (Bhambra 2010, 133, 137, 139; cf. Kaelble 2009, 34)]
An example: Histoire croisée Histoire croisee “asks that historians understand their categories of analysis, as well as their objects of study, as ‘entangled’ products of national crossings. (…) Rather than proceeding on the basis of established categories of ‘nation,’ ‘state,’ or ‘society,’ histoire croisée orients itself around problems, particularly the ‘entangled’ historical relationships between Germany and France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” (Cohen and O’Connor 2004, xiv)
More generally: Entanglement history, history of transfer, integration history, connected history, cross-national history, transnational history, shared history, relations history, histoiré croisée and Verflechtungsgeschichte” (entangled histories), … These approaches involve comparison as one of their dimensions: “In order, as a historian, to recognize what is happening during a transfer, one must compare the following: the position of the object under investigation in its old context with that in its new context, the social origins of the intermediaries and of the affected parties in one country with those of another, terms in one language with those of another, and finally the interpretation of a phenomenon within the national culture from which it comes with that in which it has been introduced” (Johannes Paulmann, cited in Kocka and Haupt 2009, 20).
A combination of comparative and transfer studies Transfer studies and comparisons need each other: (1) “Comparisons require the consideration of transfers because transfers are a significant factor when addressing convergence and divergence [between cases].” (2) “Transfer studies require comparison because it is only through comparison that the delivering culture can be distinguished from the receiving culture.” An example: “When one argues that the German nation largely consists of transfers from French culture, one must use comparison to figure out what is German and what is French.” (Kaelble 2009, 35)
Comparison as an aspect of transfer studies (of cross- national history, or of the creation of national history) “Nations were made in a transnational arena, and constructed, at least in part, by comparisons.” Example: “The nations which resulted from the ruins of the Habsburg empire owed their form (…) to American and British conceptions about the proper composition of a nation.” Therefore comparative histories must take into account “the ideological function of comparisons in the constitution of national differences.” (Cohen and O’Connor 2004, xviii-xix) Cf. Kettunen.
The domestication framework At issue is “the creation and harmonisation of global trends”: (1) “external models are never just adopted (…) their meaning and consequences are different from the original blueprint”, (2) “the role of local actors”: “compliance is often presented as a voluntary move and adapted to local conditions in order to save face”, (3) “the consideration of a reform in terms of domestic frames of sense-making” (Alasuutari 2009, 66, 67)
Domestication framework as a comparative approach? Domestication framework as a version of transfer studies? Cf. Alasuutari 2009, 69: “it is (…) interesting to ask how and why different nation-state government actors, or individuals working in different occupations or perhaps taking part in an international organisation, compare each others’ practices, adopt and promote them as worldwide models, and follow the same trends.”